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Scientists Think Apes Should Play More Video Games

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Chimpanzees and orangutans in captivity need to play more video games, according to new research published Monday by The Australian National University (ANU).

Researchers concluded chimpanzees and orangutans’ high intelligence means they can often get bored in a captive environment and require the kind of intellectual stimulation that video games can easily provide.

“This kind of enrichment program can give them a higher quality of life,” Nicky Kim-McCormack, a biological anthropology Ph.D. candidate at ANU, said in a press statement. “It allows them to be challenged in a new ways.”

ANU researchers gave apes in a zoo free choice from a range of different digital activities, which allowed them to interact with zoo visitors. These included programs which allowed direct interaction between the visitors and the apes.

“The amazing thing we saw was that the chimps and orangutans realised that they were interacting with the visitors through the program,” Kim-McCormack said. “They got that concept, it was great to see both the animal and the visitors connecting in a special way.”

Surveys conducted by ANU found that 85 percent of zoo visitors interacted with the apes through video games, indicating a positive change in attitude towards the species and conservation efforts to help them.

Kim-McCormack noted that her research supported previous studies that found playing video games greatly benefit captive apes, but zoos and sanctuaries remained reluctant to introduce similar activities.

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